Founded in 1882 and situated in a conservation area, the Gallery is housed in two listed buildings designed by Charles Barry: the Grade I listed neo-classical style art gallery and the Grade II* listed athenaeum.
The collections comprise around 25,000 works, including fine art, pre-industrial pottery, metalwork, porcelain, furniture, glass, wallpaper and antiquities.
The project saw the gallery refurbished and a new extension designed by Sir Michael Hopkins, which linked the art gallery and athenaeum. The glass extension provided light, space and a view into the city as well as the gallery’s first disabled access.
The renovations also saw exhibition space doubled as well as new galleries for temporary exhibitions. Environmental and storage conditions for collections were also improved, as was access to study collections with a print room to be used by visitors.
Better visitor facilities included full access for disabled people, a shop and café.
An education suite was added, including a lecture room and state of the art facilities as well as studio spaces for practical workshops, combined with an expanded education programme to open up the collections to more people.